Sicilian Poetry


Nino Martoglio (1870 - 1921)

Nino MartoglioMartoglio, journalist, poet, and playwright was born in Belpasso on December 3, 1870. At the age of 19 he established the humorous weekly D'Artagnan, conceived and written entirely by himself, making use of a number of pseudoyms. It's great success is believed to have been due to his Sicilian poetry. He gave many actors their start in the theatre among whom was Angelo Musco. Beginning in 1901 he dedicated himself to the theatre. In April of 1903 he opened in the Teatro Manzoni in Milan with his own company. His works soon gained wide notoriety. Two of his works written for Angelo Musco, were especially successful: "San Giuvanni decullatu" (1908), and "L'aria del continente" (1910). In 1917 he collaborated with Luigi Pirandello, producing two works, "A vilanza" (Cowardice), and Capiddazzu paga tutto" (Capiddazzu Pays For Everything). His works in silent films is less known. He died in a tragic hospital elevator accident on September 15, 1921 while on his way to visit his hospitalized son.
Lu Suli E La Luna

The Sun and the Moon

Chi nni vuliti, caru amicu miu,
a mia m'ha fattu sempri 'sta'imprissioni:
ca a pettu di lu suli su' un schifiu,
la luna e tuti li costillazioni.

Lu suli è fattu di 'na costruzioni
ca fa 'n caluri, salaratu Diu,
ca s'arristora 'na pupulazioni...
E inveci, ccu la luna, non quariu!

'N mumentu... Approvu zoccu aviti dittu
lu suli ci la vinci, in questa classi;
ma... in quantu a lustru, mi pariti pazzu.

La luna nesci quann'è scuru fittu
e ju sparagnu sopra l'ogghiu a gassi...
lu suli nesci a jornu; chi nni fazzu?

My dear friend, what can I say
I've always been under the impression
the moon and all the constellations
are useless when stacked up against the sun

The sun is made in such a way
that it provides warmth, thank God,
so the people are rejuvenated
but the moon warms nothing!

Wait a minute... What you say is right
the sun wins out in that case;
but... if you think about light, you're way off base.

The moon comes out when it's pitch black
so I save on oil for lighting...
but the sun rises at daybreak; saving me nothing?

English translation by Arthur V. Dieli



Mamma, mammuzza, si 'n avissi a tia,
ju 'ntra 'stu munnu, mi sintissi persu;
ti vogghiu beni chių di l'Universu,
chių di la vista e chių di l'arma mia.

Si lu me' sensu ancora non s'ha persu,
lu vidi, mamma č pirchi pensu a tia:
a tia ca si' la megghiu puisia;
e di la' puisia lu megghiu versu!"

Oggi ricurri ancora la to' festa
ed ju, chi non mi scordu la jurnata,
t'offro l'umili miu, solitu cantu.

Tu dunami la solita vasata,
e po' fammi durmiri ccu la testa
supra lu pettu to' amurusu e santu!

Mama, sweet Mama, if I didn't have you,
in this world I would surely feel lost;
I love you much more than the universe,
more than sight and more than my soul.

That my sense is not yet lost,
you see mama, it's why I think of you:
you who are the best poetry;
and of poetry the best verse!"

Today once again it's your birthday
and I, not forgetting the day,
offer you my humble self, a familiar tune.

Give me your familiar kiss,
and then let me sleep with my head
on your loving and blessed breast!!

English translation by Arthur V. Dieli, 12/3/2013

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This page is maintained by Art Dieli.
Last updated 12/3/13